BJP links Lalu kin to land scam

first_imgThe Bihar unit of the BJP on Friday alleged that Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s two sons — Tej Pratap and Tejaswi — and his wife Rabri Devi were involved in a multi-crore land scam. The allegation comes days after the BJP had charged Mr Tejaswi Prasad Yadav with conflict of interest as Forest and Environment Minister in a soil purchase contract, worth ₹90 lakh, for the Patna Zoo.Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi urged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to sack both Mr. Lalu Prasad’s sons from the cabinet and order a thorough inquiry into the land scam.Showing about 280 pages of documents related to the “dubious sale and purchase of the land”, Mr Modi further said, “I’ve all the authentic documents to prove my charges and we’ll take this scam too to the extent of the fodder scam.”Ownership transferredMr Modi said the land on which a shopping mall is being constructed by a company owned by an RJD MLA, was first given to Delight Marketing Company Pvt. Ltd in 2005 by Harsh and Vinay Kochar, prominent hoteliers of Patna. The Kochars, alleged Mr Modi, were given two railway hotels at Ranchi and Puri to run when Mr Lalu Prasad was union railway minister.Mr. Modi alleged that, “In 2010 Lalu’s family members, his wife Rabri Devi, two sons Tej Pratap and Tejaswi Yadav, daughters Chanda Yadav and Ragini Yadav made an entry into the company as directors but on November 12, 2016 the company changed its name to LaRa Projects Pvt. Ltd and just two months back on February 14, 2017, only Rabri Devi, Tej Pratap and Tejaswi Yadav remained directors of the company.”“LaRa means Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi…Rabri Devi owns 2,402 and both Tej Pratap and Tejaswi Yadav own 800 shares each of the company today… The company, interestingly, did no business in last 15 years but added ‘construction’ in its objective in 2015,” said Mr Modi, who was earlier in exposing the multi-crore fodder scam against Lalu Prasad Yadav.“Nitish Kumar always says he neither protects anyone, nor implicates anyone…So we expect a thorough probe into this land scam too, ” Mr Modi told journalists.Neither the JD(U) nor Mr Lalu Prasad have responded to the allegations so far.last_img read more

Swamy’s beef comments ticks off Goa Congress

first_imgPanaji: The Goa Congress on Thursday demanded that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar-led coalition government should condemn Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy’s comments about weaning Goans away from eating beef.Speaking to reporters, the State Congress spokesperson Agnelo Fernandes said Mr. Swamy’s comments were an “ominous sign”. He demanded that Mr. Parrikar should demand an explanation from Mr. Swamy and condemn his statements. “More than one-third of Goa comprises minorities who eat beef. Such a statement is a warning for all of us,” he said. Mr. Swamy had made the comments in an interview last week.Mr. Fernandes said the BJP is protecting Mr. Swamy, who has been making insensitive and condemnable statements.last_img read more

3 killed in clashes near Dera HQ

first_imgThree persons were killed and four sustained injuries in violent clashes between the supporters of the Dera chief and the police in Sirsa as violence erupted near the Dera headquarters here on Friday evening, soon after the CBI court pronounced its verdict holding Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty in a rape case.The clashes took place around 5 p.m. after a mob torched a milk plant, a paper mill and a power sub-station near Shahpur Begu village. A Hindi news channel journalist was also manhandled by the mob.3 in serious conditionOne of the deceased has been identified as Wazir Chand, a resident of Sukh Sagar Colony. The identities of the other two deceased were yet to be established. “Three of the injured are serious and have been referred to the medical college hospital in Abroha,” said Deputy Director, Haryana Public Relations Department, Satish Mehra.The violent protests against the verdict, however, mostly remained confined to the neighbourhood of the Dera Sacha Sauda premises on the outskirts of the city. Gurbaksh, one of the Dera followers, said the verdict was not acceptable to him and lakhs of the supporters.last_img read more

Wasn’t scared of him then nor now, says woman who unmasked Ram Rahim

first_imgHaryana, Punjab calm; forces still at the ready “He was present in the courtroom when I deposed against him in 2009. I was not scared of him then nor am I am today,” said the woman, whose statement led to the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.The woman, who is in her early 40s, spoke to The Hindu over her relative’s phone on Monday, as she continues to live under police protection since 2002, the year the Punjab and Haryana High Court took cognisance of an anonymous letter and directed the CBI to investigate the allegations of rape and sexual assault in it.Also Read  The CBI convinced 18 women to give evidence against the Dera chief but only two deposed against him in court, leading to his conviction. “I got justice today,” the woman said. Police enhanced her security from August 24 onwards, a day before the Dera chief was convicted by a CBI court.A close relative of the woman said she was sexually assaulted when she was studying at a college run inside the Sirsa headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda. He said the woman is married now and has two children. The woman’s elder brother was also an ardent follower of the Dera chief.“He was murdered in 2002 at the behest of Ram Rahim Singh. The godman suspected the brother of having sent the anonymous letter, which led to registration of a case against him. The brother had become aware of the wrongdoings with his sister,” said the relative.The CBI is also investigating the murder case and the final hearings are to begin on September 16.The relative said that though they come from a conservative social fabric, the entire clan stood by her.The woman’s father, who died last year. had accompanied her when she went to court to record her statement in front of the judge in 2009. “That was the only time she went to court. Rest of the hearings were attended by her father. The Dera chief’s guards used to come to court with weapons. We were threatened, enticed and pressured to not pursue the case. The Dera management said they were ready to pay any amount quoted by us,” the relative said.He said the woman was determined to get justice and was glued to the TV set since morning. Belonging to a family of agriculturists, she was married to a farmer soon after she returned from the Dear headquarters.”We got to know from lawyers that Ram Rahim started crying and begging for the court’s mercy when he heard that he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Commandos had to drag him away outside the court as he refused to leave,” the relative said.He said had it not been for her, the other complainant, a Sadhvi, who wrote the anonymous letter wouldn’t have come to court. “She was the first one to depose and after her the sadhvi mustered courage to tell the court the atrocities done by Ram Rahim. She has created history, she should be rewarded by the government,” the relative said.last_img read more

Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh approaches HC, challenges CBI court order

first_imgJailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Moday moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging a special CBI court’s verdict sentencing him to 20 years in prison for raping two disciples.The CBI court in Panchkula on August 28 had sentenced Ram Rahim to 20 years in prison after his conviction.“We have filed an appeal today in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Through this, we have challenged the order of the CBI court,” defence counsel Vishal Garg Narwana said here.He said the CBI verdict has been challenged on several grounds.“One of the grounds was that there was a delay of more than six years in recording the statements of the women (victims) by the CBI after the incident,” the defence counsel said.The CBI had claimed that the two women followers were sexually exploited in 1999 and the agency recorded their statement in 2005, Garg said. He alleged that the CBI had also concealed some portion of the victims’ statement.Ram Rahim was convicted by the special CBI court on August 25, following which violence and arson had erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa districts which left 41 people dead and scores injured.The judge pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two rapes that date back to 2002.The controversial sect head is currently lodged in Sunaria jail in Rohtak district of Panchkula.In April 2002, an anonymous letter was written to the then chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, complaining about the alleged sexual exploitation of woman followers at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa.In May 2002, the high court directed the Sirsa district and session judge to probe the allegations in the letter. In September 2002, the high court handed over the matter to the CBI after the district court indicated the possibility of sexual exploitationIn December 2002, the CBI registered a case of rape, criminal intimidation against Ram Rahim.The CBI filed a charge sheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007. The charge sheet mentioned the sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ between 1999 and 2001.In September 2008, the special CBI court framed charges of rape and criminal intimidation against Ram Rahim.last_img read more

Central Railways to deal with plastic bottles menace

first_imgWith Maharashtra set to implement a Statewide ban on plastic from June 23, the Central Railways is exploring the possibility of implementing a buyback policy for plastic bottles along with installing plastic bottle crushing machines at major stations.The biggest challenge that the railways face is that of plastic containers, including bottles, entering Maharashtra from other States. Within Maharashtra, the State government is proposing to have plastic bottles with a buyback price printed on it.According to a senior railway official, they are considering to extend the buyback policy only for approved manufacturers of the railways and on bottles that print the buyback price. “The details for the same will only be finalised once the State decides on its policy. At present, we are only looking at how to make it operational,” the official said.Storage problemAdditional Divisional Railway Manager of the Mumbai Division, Central Railway, V.A Malegaonkar, said, “We will be meeting the approved manufacturers in the coming week. We have also sought clarification from the zonal headquarters as to how to implement the buyback mechanism.”Many stall managers and owners have highlighted the issue of storage for returned bottles and also mentioned that the scheme will work only if all stakeholders participate. “If there is no mechanism of collecting the old bottles periodically, there will be a pile up. We hardly have enough space to stock our running items,” a stall manager at Dadar railway station in Mumbai said.Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is also separately discussing ways to frame a buyback plan for water-vending machines, which provide water in plastic cups as well as one-litre bottles. “We will follow the law of the land and take appropriate measures to replace plastic with suitable paper or equivalent bio-degradable options at water-vending machines. Deliberations are on to look into the use of plastic bottles in a suitable manner so as to implement the rule,” IRCTC west region spokesperson Pinakin Morawala said.last_img read more

Unite against BJP: Arun Shourie appeals to Opposition

first_imgCautioning that the return of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in the 2019 general election will put the country in peril, senior journalist Arun Shourie on Friday advised the Opposition to stop stressing on prestige issues and instead forget the past to come together to fight. “When the country is in danger, Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejariwal should not make an issue of who will make the first phone call,” Mr. Shourie said, addressing the Mumbai debut of Rashtra Manch, a non-political forum with a call to ‘save democracy and constitution.’ BJP MP Shatrughna Sinha, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, former raliway minister Dinesh Triwedi, AAP MP Sanjay Singh, former high court judge Abhay Thipsay among others were the other speakers at the event. They voiced their concern over instances of violence, the alleged involvement of BJP in manipulating the media, judiciary and bureaucracy, and the autocractic functioning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Shourie said that 2019 is going to be the last chance to reverse the course. “ Opposition parties should avoid breaking alliance over 3 or 4 seats. Don’t make your differences public. Don’t talk about each other, but talk to each other.”Commenting on the role of media, Mr. Shourie said, “Many say that media persons fear exposing wrongdoing by the government and business groups. But I think it’s greed that is coming in the way, not fear.”Mr. Shatrughna Sinha said, “Before being a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, I am a representative of the Bharatiya Janta. A party is larger than an individual, but our nation is larger than any party. I won’t leave the BJP but if because of my work and actions they want me to leave … lets see.”Mr. Yashwant Sinha pointed out that the country’s home minister was not aware about situations like the alliance in J&K, or the framework of the Naga accord and the same could be said about the finance ministry and demonetisation. Meanwhile, Mr. Thipsay said that under BJP rule, even judges are scared to deliver judgement. “Our country has taken a turn for the worse in the past four years. Independence of judiciary is a fundamental feature of the Constitution but it is being subverted like never before,” he added.last_img read more

Gujarat to start groundnut procurement from November 15

first_imgThe Gujarat Government is set to start procurement for groundnut in Saurashtra region from 122 designated centres from November 15th. The State government has fixed ₹ 5000 per quintal as the purchase price under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for groundnut for the current season. As per the government projections, groundnut output will be at about 2.7 million tonnes for the year 2018-19. It may be noted that groundnut is one of the cash crops in Saurashtra region and its acreage in the region for the year 2018-19 was recorded at 14.67 lakh hectares, down 8% from last year.The State government has already announced procurement of groundnut at MSP rates of ₹4,890 per quintal set by the central government along with the bonus of₹110 per quintal with an effective procurement price of ₹5,000. The bonus amount will be borne by the state in a bid to hike the MSP to support farmers.For procurement of groundnut, the government has appointed the State civil supply corporation as the nodal agency and entire procurement will be done through the corporation. “Currently, registration of farmers is underway and from November 15th, procurement will begin,” said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. According to sources in the agriculture department, so far more than 10000 farmers have registered online to sell their produce under the MSP. The State government has not set any target for procurement, but the standard procurement practices suggest up to 25 % of the total crop can be procured at MSP level. As per the government’s current estimate of about 2.7 million tonnes of groundnut production in the current season in Gujarat, the procurement is likely to be about 6-7 lakh tonnes.last_img read more

IFFI to open with world premiere of ‘The Aspern Papers’

first_imgThe 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will open with the world premiere of ‘The Aspern Papers’, with its international star cast attending the screening.Organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) under the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), Goa government’s entertainment organisation, the nine-day IFFI 2018 begins on Tuesday.The Aspern Papers tells a story of obsession, lost grandeur and dreams of Byronic adventures. Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Golden Globe-nominated Joely Richardson (the lead actors), Julia Robins, Morgane Polanski, Nicolas Hau and Julien Landais (director) will attend the screening.The country’s premier film festival this year will showcase 212 films from 68 countries, with Israel as the ‘Country of Focus’. There will be a retrospective section of Ingmar Bergman to mark 100 years of the filmmaker’s birth.The films for the Indian Panorama section were selected by a feature film jury of 13 members headed by director and screenwriter Rahul Rawail. The jury selected the 22 feature films, and Olu, directed by Shaji N. Karun, will be the opening feature film of the Indian Panorama. Four mainstream films have also been selected under the Indian Panorama Section by an internal committee based on the recommendations of the Film Federation of India and Producers Guild of India.There is also a special section for sports films. Members of the film fraternity, including Akshay Kumar, Chitrangada Singh, Reema Kagti and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra will present their sports-centric films. Among those selected are Gold, Soorma, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, 1983, Mary Kom and MSD: The Untold Story.“The idea is to celebrate sports and recognise the contribution of India’s sportspersons,” said ESG vice chairman and filmmaker Rajendra Talak. The sports section is being introduced under the ‘Khelo India’ campaign at Jogger’s Park in Altino, Panaji.The festival will also have popular sections like master classes by veterans in the Indian film industry, besides the international and conversation sections.last_img read more

Bihar set for a tough contest

first_imgThe first phase of Lok Sabha polls in Bihar on Thursday is set to be a tough battle between the BJP-led NDA and the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).In the 2014 elections, the NDA had won all four seats — Gaya, Jamui (both reserved seats), Nawada and Aurangabad — going to the polls, but this time it appears to be tough for them to retain them.Manjhi vs ManjhiThe NDA candidates apparently are relying on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma while the Grand Alliance is banking on caste calculations and local issues.In Gaya, former Chief Minister and president of Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Jitan Ram Manjhi is pitted against NDA candidate Vijay Kumar Manjhi of the Janata Dal (United). Both come from lower Scheduled Caste Musahar (rat-catchers) community but Mr. Jitan Ram’s political stock appears to be high among the voters and Mr. Vijay Kumar, said locals, is a “lightweight candidate” against him.Mr. Vijay Kumar is contesting a parliamentary election for the first time. His mother Bhagwati Devi had once represented the Gaya seat. The BJP dropped its sitting MP Hari Manjhi as the seat went to alliance partner JD(U) under the seat-sharing pact.The bahubali factorOn the neighbouring Nawada seat, the contest is between NDA candidate Chandan Kumar Singh (Lok Janshakti Party) and Mahagathbandhan nominee Veebha Devi (RJD). In 2014, firebrand BJP leader Giriraj Singh had won the seat but this time the BJP swapped this seat with LJP and shifted Mr. Giriraj Singh to Begusarai. The LJP candidate is the brother of don-turned-politician Surajbhan Singh, while the RJD has given the ticket to the wife of suspended party leader Raj Ballabh Yadav. Mr. Raj Ballabh is a known bahubali leader (strongman) in the area with huge assets. He is currently in jail in connection with an alleged rape case of a minor girl. For the voters, Mr. Chandan Singh is an outsider and Ms. Veebha Devi a local. “Her husband may be in jail but his wife has no criminal record against her. Chandan Singh’s brother Surajbhan Singh too has a tainted past. At least Veebha Devi is a local and will be approachable,” said a group of villagers at Kharidi Bigha village in the constituency.Caste calculationsIn Jamui, NDA candidate Chirag Paswan (LJP) is contesting against Grand Alliance candidate Bhudeo Chaudhury (Rashtriya Lok Samata Party). In 2014, Mr. Chirag, son of Union Minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, had defeated RJD candidate Sudhanshu Bhaskar from Jamui. Locals said the LJP leader had won the seat riding on the “Modi wave” and this time, too, he appears to be pushing hard on the “Modi magic and some development work done by him in the constituency”. However, if the caste calculations work for the Mahagathbandhan candidate this time, Mr. Chaudhury could upset Mr. Chirag’s dream of retaining the seat for a second time, said locals. On the Aurangabad seat, the NDA has retained its sitting MP Sushil Kumar Singh (BJP) against surprise Mahagathabandhan candidate Upendra Prasad (HAM-S). Mr. Sushil Kumar won the seat in the last two Lok Sabha elections and is pushing hard this time to score a hat-trick. However, by fielding Mr. Upendra Prasad from the OBC Kushwaha caste, theMahagathbandhan has played the caste card to woo the backward and extremely backward voters in the constituency. “It will not be an easy win for the BJP candidate this time. The caste calculus in favour of the Mahagathbandhan candidate can throw a surprise result this time,” said Bharat Sao of Raniganj village in the constituency.last_img read more

Scientists Solve Mystery of World-Traveling Plant

first_imgBy land or by sea? That’s the question scientists have been pondering for decades when it comes to the bottle gourd, a plant with a hard-skinned fruit that’s used by cultures all over the world to make lightweight containers and other tools. Archaeologists know that people were using domesticated bottle gourds in the Americas as early as 10,000 years ago. But how did the plant make the jump from its original home in Africa to the New World with an ocean in the way? A new study overturns previous evidence pointing to a human-assisted land migration and concludes that the bottle gourd floated across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas on its own.Humans rarely eat the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), but rather dry out its fruit and fashion it into containers, tools like fishing floats or pipes, or even musical instruments. The plant comes in two subspecies linked to their geography: one from Africa, where the plant first evolved, and one from Asia. Researchers have long wondered whether the New World bottle gourds are more closely related to the African or Asian subspecies. If they could build a bottle gourd family tree, they thought, they might be able to figure out how the plant reached the Americas in the first place. Did it float over on ocean currents from Africa, the prevailing assumption until about 10 years ago, or did humans carry the plant with them when they walked across the Bering land bridge from Asia?“It was a real puzzle,” says Bruce Smith, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Then, in 2005, a study was published that seemed to solve the mystery once and for all. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers analyzed the genetics of bottle gourds for the first time and found that pre-Columbian bottle gourds in the Americas appeared to be more closely related to the Asian subspecies than the African one. They concluded that the ancestors of New World bottle gourds must have been carried by people as they made their way across Asia, over the Bering land bridge, and down into the Americas.But many scientists—including several of the study’s authors—had “lingering questions” about that hypothesis, says Andrew Clarke, a plant biologist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K. and an author of the 2005 study. Most glaringly, how could the bottle gourd, a tropical plant, make it through years of traveling across the Arctic? And if humans carried it with them across the Bering land bridge, why is there no archaeological evidence of bottle gourds in Siberia, Alaska, or the Pacific Northwest?Logan Kistler, an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, thought the question of bottle gourd dispersal was due for another look. Technology for studying ancient DNA has “really come a long way” since the 2005 study was done, he says. “We thought, since we had these updated technologies, it could be worth revisiting” that paper’s conclusions, he says.Instead of the meager three genetic markers scientists were able to study in 2005, Kistler’s team analyzed 86,000 base pairs of ancient and modern bottle gourds’ chloroplast DNA, which can be used to build family trees for plants much in the way that maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA can be used to trace ancestry in humans. The expanded genetic analysis revealed that pre-Columbian bottle gourds in the Americas were more closely related to African gourds after all, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using updated models of how objects drift on Atlantic currents, Kistler’s team concludes that the ancestors of New World bottle gourds probably floated to the West African coast by river, embarked on their Atlantic voyage at latitudes between 0° and 20° south or between 10° and 20° north, and landed on the coast of Brazil an average of 9 months later. So rather than bringing bottle gourds with them, the first human settlers of the Americas likely found a wild population of the useful plant waiting for them and eventually domesticated it, just as people on other continents did.The new result is “a real relief,” says Smith, who was involved in both studies. “It just makes so much more sense” than the 2005 conclusion, he says. Clarke agrees: “Now, it’s really quite clear that [the bottle gourd] reached the New World under its own steam.”Still, not all the questions about the bottle gourd have been answered. Scientists don’t know how it got to Asia, for example, and the scarcity of wild bottle gourds the world over begs the question of why uncultivated varieties of the plant disappeared. Kistler suggests that wild populations may have declined after megafaunal mammals like the mastodon went extinct and could no longer help disperse bottle gourd seeds in their dung. But for now, these pieces of the bottle gourd’s past remain mysterious.last_img read more

U.K. Looks to Scrap Confidentiality Rules for Animal Research

first_imgThe United Kingdom has proposed lifting outdated confidentiality rules that ban the release of information about animal research.Under Section 24 of the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, the Home Office cannot release any information about animal research carried out in the country. This includes, for example, information about people or places applying for animal testing licenses and inspection visit reports. But these rules are now “out of step with [government] policy on openness and transparency,” said Home Office Minister Norman Baker in a public consultation launched yesterday.Sharing information more openly will “help to provide a constructive dissemination of technical knowledge” and will lower the risk of duplication of animal experiments, the government says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Both animal rights groups and researchers using animals have praised the proposal as a step in the right direction. “Freedom of access to information is … the only means by which research can be properly scrutinised in order to ensure the best possible outcome for people and animals,” said the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in a statement issued today.Chris Magee, head of policy at the pressure group Understanding Animal Research (UAR) in London, tells ScienceInsider that withholding information does not help scientists and their work, because it leaves a “vacuum that activists can fill in with misleading information.” “Explaining what really goes on inside labs is the best way to counter the sometimes hysterical claims of so-called animal rights activists,” says Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of the organization. The secrecy is also unnecessary because the threat of violent extremists is lower now than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, Magee adds.This month, UAR and more than 40 science organizations will publish a joint document, or concordat, laying out how they plan to be more open and transparent about their animal research work.Private companies welcomed the government’s proposal but sounded a note of caution. Louise Leong, R&D policy director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said in a statement yesterday that drugmakers “would be looking for reassurance that any amendments to this Act do not compromise the safety of people who work in animal research,” as well as their intellectual property and “commercially sensitive information.”The government’s proposal seems to have taken these concerns on board: It suggests scrapping Section 24 while protecting the names of places, people, and their intellectual property. Under the government’s favored scenario, disclosing animal research information “with malicious intent” would also become a criminal offense.Indeed, when the U.K. government considered repealing Section 24 more than 10 years ago, then–Science Minister David Sainsbury said the biggest concern was “the question of penalties for people who improperly put that information into the public domain” and taking a tough stance against “animal terrorism.”In 2004, the government finally decided to keep the rules unchanged. Now, observers expect Section 24 to be scrapped, but don’t know what will replace it. The public consultation closes on 13 June; the government says it will then “work quickly” to analyze the comments and propose a final option.last_img read more

Can Question No. 12 survive? Researchers fight to retain a question about college degrees on American Community Survey

first_imgA proposal to drop a question about college education from a large annual government survey would make it a lot harder for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to track trends in the U.S. scientific workforce. Social scientists hope to persuade the Obama administration to reject the idea, which stems in part from criticism of the survey by some members of Congress.Each year, the Census Bureau uses the American Community Survey (ACS) to collect housing and demographic information from some 3.5 million people. The ACS debuted in 2005 as a way to keep track of national trends that occur between the decennial census, a tally of every household in the country. Many federal agencies and private firms use the ACS data to track trends and plan programs. NSF, for example, uses the question that has been proposed for elimination—which asks respondents to identify their college major—to create a sampling pool for a more detailed survey that illuminates trends in the science and engineering workforce.But some members of Congress dislike the ACS. They believe the government has no business asking Americans about the number of flush toilets in their homes or when they leave for work in the morning, or even how much they earn. Some legislators have gone even further, arguing that the 72-question ACS should be drastically shortened or even eliminated because it’s an unnecessary burden on the public.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In response to that criticism, the Census Bureau this year carried out the first stem-to-stern review of the survey. A review panel graded each question on two key criteria: Did a law or regulation require the government to collect that information? And how much time and effort did it take to answer? The bureau also tried to measure the value of the information to the federal government and the broader audience of users.Seven questions scored low enough to be axed from the survey beginning in 2016, the bureau announced on 31 October in the Federal Register. Six of the choices appear to be uncontroversial—five questions pertain to a person’s marital status, and a sixth asks residents whether there is a business or medical office on their property. (Update:  Some social science groups are unhappy that these questions have been targeted.)And then there’s the bureau’s decision to flag Question No. 12, which asks respondents who have completed college to list their undergraduate major. (Question No. 11 asks people about their level of education, from no schooling through a Ph.D.) The proposed elimination of that question has struck a nerve with the U.S. statistical and social science research community, and with the thousands of organizations that cite the data for their own purposes. There is a bipartisan political consensus that the country needs more tech-savvy workers, they say, and Question No. 12 is the most comprehensive, timely, and cost-efficient way to collect the data that policymakers need to achieve that goal.The bureau’s decision is actually a proposal to an interagency panel that will make a final recommendation next spring to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Federal Register notice started the clock on a 60-day comment period. The U.S. statistical community hopes its responses will persuade the Obama administration to reverse what it sees as an unintended yet potentially damaging consequence of a well-meaning exercise in good government.Keeping the question is “a no-brainer,” says Norman Bradburn, a senior fellow at NORC, an independent research organization at the University of Chicago in Illinois. “There is at present no other source for this information,” says Bradburn, a former head of NSF’s social and behavioral sciences directorate, which includes the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) in Washington, D.C. “To produce it by a special survey would be extremely costly and provide data of much less quality and utility.”Degrees of difficultyAnother opponent of dropping the question is Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership. When Jankowski tries to woo high-tech companies to the Texas city, data from Question No. 12 allow him to brag that the metropolitan area has a higher concentration of graduates with degrees in science and engineering than the country as a whole. The question also generates a demographic breakdown of the region’s population, for example, how many women aged 25 to 39 hold degrees in science and engineering. He says such data can be very useful in tailoring the city’s pitch to prospective employers, to other scientists and engineers thinking of relocating to Houston, and to businesses who wish to reach a particular population.“It’s b—s— to say that it’s a burden on someone to answer that question,” Jankowski says. “Anybody who has gone to college is proud of the degree they received.”In fact, Question No. 12 scored very low on the bureau’s scale of the “burden” it imposes on the public: It takes the average respondent 9 seconds to answer, officials estimate. “It’s easy for people to provide the answer, the response rate is high, and it’s not a sensitive question,” explains James Treat, chief of the ACS office in Washington, D.C.The problem is that Question No. 12 also scored low on the “benefits” side of the bureau’s ledger. In large part, that’s because Congress hasn’t explicitly mandated collection of the information. But officials at NSF, which waged a successful campaign to have the question added to the ACS, say that Congress has repeatedly made it clear it wants the agency to collect such information in a cost-effective manner.The charge goes back to NSF’s founding in 1950 as a research agency that would also be a “central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources.” Since then, Congress has reinforced that mission several times in legislation.One of NSF’s key information products, the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators, draws upon Question No. 12 to help paint an exhaustive picture of global trends in science and engineering. The data are also essential for a congressionally mandated report on women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science. NCSES uses the answers to create its own survey of college graduates. Its definition of the scientific workforce includes both persons with so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees and those holding jobs requiring STEM-related skills but who lack a STEM degree.NSF once obtained data on college majors from the decennial census. But the long form disappeared after the 2000 census. NSF fielded its own survey in 2003 to identify the subset of scientists and engineers in the overall U.S. workforce, at a cost of $17 million. So in 2005 Lynda Carlson, then head of NSF’s statistical shop, began a campaign to place an equivalent question on the ACS and eliminate the need for a stand-alone NSF survey.Carlson initially was told that legislation would be needed ordering the Census Bureau to add the question to the ACS. But after the relevant committees balked at her request, she got OMB to agree that asking about undergraduate fields of degree was in the national interest. After extensive field tests, the question first appeared in 2009. Since then, the arrangement has worked out so well that NSF was able to save another $4 million by canceling another survey on recent college graduates that it had used to fill in the blanks between each decennial census.Question No. 12 provides “the only way we have to take a broad look at the entire U.S. population,” says John Gawalt, the current NCSES director. Gawalt reacted “with disbelief” when the question appeared on the Census Bureau’s hit list, he says, adding that he finds it “ironic” that the bureau actually carries out the survey of college graduates on behalf of NSF.“The Census Bureau is fully aware of the importance of the question,” Gawalt says. “And we’ve been encouraged to comment on the benefits that weren’t captured in its initial analysis.”Political considerationsSocial scientists aren’t blaming the Census Bureau for its decision to put Question No. 12 on a hit list. Instead, they believe that census officials agreed with them on the question’s value but that political realities have forced their hand.“The Census Bureau does not want to do this,” asserts Katherine Smith, executive director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics in Alexandria, Virginia, which represents those who rely on the quality and availability of federal statistics and which strongly opposes dropping Question No. 12. “They were forced to go through a process, and this is how it turned out. But I don’t think they are any happier with the result than we are.”The Census Bureau “has to show Congress that it is trying to save money,” Bradburn explains. Given that many legislators favor reducing the size and scope of bread-and-butter surveys like the ACS, the obvious solution was to propose dropping some questions.The Census Bureau’s Treat says he has no dog in the fight except to make sure that the ACS content review is carried out with integrity. “There are no quotas” for the number of questions that must be dropped, he says, “and in the end I don’t really care about the fate of any particular question.” At the same time, he says the Federal Register notice gives the community a golden opportunity to make its case for retaining Question No. 12 and, by extension, the ACS itself.“I know there’s a lot of angst in the community right now,” Treat says. “But I think there’s a lack of understanding that the survey is under attack. So I encourage everybody to respond to the notice. The more responses we get, the better understanding there will be about the value of collecting this information.”Update, 1:20pm 11/14/2014: This story has been updated to reflect concerns about the proposal to remove questions related to marital status.last_img read more

Pentagon funding program opens door to U.K. collaboration

first_imgA long-running Pentagon program that pumps about $250 million annually into U.S. universities for basic research is taking on an international flavor. This year, for the first time, the Department of Defense (DOD) formally encouraged U.S. applicants to partner with researchers from the United Kingdom in seeking grants from the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program.“Although international collaboration isn’t totally new to us … we decided it was time to formalize cooperation between the U.S. and the U.K.,” Robin Staffin, the director of DOD’s basic research office, recently told ScienceInsider. “There’s been a recognition at senior levels of government that this [international collaboration] is something we should try … to accelerate progress in some key research areas.”Since it was founded in the mid-1980s, MURI has become a mainstay of DOD’s basic research programs, accounting for about one-quarter of the $1 billion in basic research funding that the Pentagon spends annually at U.S. universities. In some fields, including computer science, engineering research, and math, the military is now the dominant U.S. funder of fundamental science. Whereas many of DOD’s funding efforts focus on single-investigator grants, MURI aims to unite researchers from different disciplines and universities on a single project. When MURI began, Staffin says, “there was a perception that the new things were occurring not within the traditional university departmental areas, but in the intersection of traditional disciplines.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In 2014, DOD made 24 new MURI awards totaling $167 million; this year, Staffin expects total U.S. funding to be about $145 million. Additional money, however, could come from the U.K. government for projects that involve universities in that nation working on three specific topics: quantum optics, laser-matter interactions at midinfrared wavelengths, and computer vision. “Should a joint U.S.-U.K. team win [a grant in those areas], then we will pay for the U.S. researchers, and U.K. will pay for U.K. researchers,” Staffin says.The MURI awards so far, some 600, have proved “scientifically very productive,” concludes a recent review of the program by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a think tank based in Alexandria, Virginia. The typical MURI grant produces some 40 published papers, it found, which together get cited more than 1000 times. And although patenting isn’t a major goal of most MURI research efforts, about 25% of the projects ultimately generate an average of four patents each. And the IDA reviewers found academics like the grant structure, which now provides about $1.5 million per year for 3 to 5 years, because it “ensures a stable environment that gives researchers the freedom to take risks, be inventive and explore. The multi-year stability allows a diverse research team to develop and mature … It can also be used to develop a critical mass of experts.”Each year, potential MURI topics are selected by each of DOD’s three main uniformed services: the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy and Marines. In 2015, for example, the services are looking for research teams to explore some 21 topics, including finding ways to emulate the explosive biological forces produced by organisms, such as frogs, fleas, and spiders, when they jump. Other topic areas include studying materials that form in temperatures above 2000°C, using quantum physics to create better computers, and studying how microbial communities may help host organisms respond to stress. The goal, Staffin says, is not just to fund “interesting basic research, but [projects that are] ready to step on the gas” and realize advancements in knowledge.DOD reviewers are now examining the final MURI applications, which arrived on 23 February. The winners will be announced later this year.last_img read more

Google Looks For Partners in India to Launch its Smart Home Devices

first_imgGoogle is in talks with Indian companies to integrate its voice assistant service with their consumer durable products like refrigerators, lights, fans, air conditioners, heaters, etc.According to a report by The Economic Times, the US-based tech giant is also in talks with Indian telecom providers to enable users to get the details of their bills through voice commands.Read it at Money Control Related Itemslast_img

Indo-Canadian Mission To Strengthen Trade Ties

first_imgThe Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), under the leadership of Pramod Goyal, launched its six-state ‘India Mission-2019’ from Chandigarh on Sunday.The delegation met the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana and began their 10-day business engagements with focus on multiple sectors that are imperative to bilateral trade between two nations.Read it at Tribune India Related Itemslast_img

Go Figure September 2012

first_imgAre you ready to start cracking the next Go Figure mystery?Deadline October 15, 2012 Enter Go Figure ContestThe July mystery seems to have stumped our readers. We aren’t golf fans for sure. The image is that of golf tees.  Related Itemslast_img